In the modern world today, you might not think to add a visit to a library to your travel list. However, this might be one of the best ideas for travel activities. Some of the libraries out there are simply exquisite, and if you don’t visit, you’ll never know… Most of them are also excellent photo opportunities just waiting for you and your camera to discover:
(Whisper: Oh and most of them have free entrance – so that makes for a free travel activity to enjoy – and it’s family-friendly… Need we say more?)
The sense of adventure: When you enter a library, it’s like embarking on a journey of discovery. You never know what you might find.
The tranquility: Despite the hustle and bustle of life outside, the library offers a sense of tranquility and peace. It is a place where one can escape the noise of the world.
Here are a few must-visit libraries from around the world:
If you love an “all white on white” clean look in décor, this is for you. Again a person with a fear of heights might not appreciate its interior. I will never be able to explore the whole library, but it is impressive: All 8 floors.
Location: Mailänder Platz 1, 70173 Stuttgart, Germany
This award-winning building is something to see. Total surface: 60 000 m 2 Library’s surface: 40 000 m 2 There are 1000 seats for readers. The combination of raw concrete, green glass and lush vegetation growing on the facade of the library make for one stunning building. The biggest attraction here certainly is the impressive roof garden, one of the largest and most beautiful of its kind in Europe.
Location: ul. Dobra 56/66 Warsaw
Architect: Marek Budzyński, Zbigniew Badowski
It was built in 1679. Again here the ceiling art is very impressive and draws your attention to keep it there. Very lavish inside and I do suggest you take a guided tour.
This very impressive Royal library is located within the monastery and palace complex in San Lorenzo de El Escorial, just outside of Madrid. It is a Unesco World Heritage site. The ceilings of this library are one huge art gallery. I am not sure if I will ever get to the books, as one just stands there amazed by the artwork. The Library and Palace are easily reached by public transport. However it is a good 30-minute walk from the station in El Escorial, so wear comfortable shoes. It is worth it as you can visit both the monastery and the palace as a tourist.
Location: 4 Calle Grimaldi, San Lorenzo de El Escorial, Spain
This library is situated at The Johns Hopkins University and is an example of baroque and roman architecture. In my opinion, the most fantastic thing is that this library is actually used for weddings. It is during these wedding functions that the library comes to life. I think it is beautiful, romantic and unique.
This is super scary to anyone with a fear of heights, but it is beautifully modern. Although there are books literally from the floor to the ceiling and then more, lots of these books are only “book-spine-prints”. Creating the illusion that it is fully stocked.
The library is nicknamed “The Eye” due to its shape, and is part of the Binhai Cultural Center.
Location: China, Tianjin, Binhai, 旭升路347號
The library has more than one building. You are greeted by dark wood when entering the old library with its impressive 200-foot long room. I love this room. It took 20 years to complete the construction which dates back to 1712, and it is more than impressive. Also housed here is the Brian Boru harp, one of the 3 remaining medieval Gaelic harps. If you love the idea of a space filled with books and ladders on wheels as well as the smell of paper, you will love this library.
Location: Trinity College Green, Dublin 2, Ireland
The library could be the same as in the Harry Potter movie. Neo-Gothic architecture, exquisite detail, huge stained glass windows, and small reading alcoves, gives a sense of peace when you enter the building.
Location: 150 Deansgate, Manchester M3 3EH, United Kingdom